Words By Stacey Martin
Photography By Daniel Hublein
As the mad scientists of the ballistics world, BOSS Shotshells has a penchant for disruption. In 2018, the small town shop in Southwest Michigan took the waterfowl industry by surprise with their 2 ¾" Shorty #5s filled to the crimp with patented copper-plated bismuth. Word spread like a brushfire about this devastating new non-toxic load that performed with lead-like lethality and the stereotype of bismuth only being for old guys with old guns shattered like a clay pigeon in a trap shoot.
The phenomenon that became copper-plated BOSS can be traced back to a problem many waterfowlers feel in their bones - a nostalgia for lead's performance mixed with disgust over what it does to the environment. In search of an answer, BOSS found a solution in bismuth. And then they improved its performance by coating it in copper, a patented innovation that changed the game. With the non-toxic properties of steel and the deadly impact of lead, their shells increased accuracy, decreased crippling rates, and respected the environment. A win-win-win.
And that foundational search for answers continues to fuel innovation at BOSS. Founder Brandon Cereke, a third-generation metallurgist, admits he's never satisfied with the status quo and is on a constant quest for information that will best serve hunters and the land and wildlife they love. More comfortable on the shop floor than in a front office, Brandon encourages his hometown team (the self-described "arsenal of misfits") to ask hard questions and find the data, especially if it challenges common assumptions.
That radical methodology is how you get Dirk Sorrells and Mason Johnson, BOSS's Brand Ambassador and Creative Director, respectively, in the middle of a field in Mio, Michigan, with an X-ray machine on opening day of grouse and woodcock season. With free shells and coffee for any hunters who stop by the checkpoint to have their birds scanned, the guys gather on-the-ground data on the types of shot used by Northern Michigan upland bird hunters and the effectiveness of each material. Instead of making definitive statements that prioritize preference over the truth, the team believes choice is a good thing, and it's their job to figure out how to optimize different materials to serve different scenarios. Just one of many research projects in the hopper, you'd be forgiven for assuming that BOSS is just as passionate about educating hunters as they are about selling shotgun shells. Luckily, those two missions work well together.
Innovation alone is an effective way to stay at the forefront of the industry. There's no denying that BOSS's obsession with pattern density and pellet energy produces killer shells with superior knock-down power. Backed with ballistic proof on penetration and performance, these guys and gals prefer hard evidence over marketing buzzwords and are more than willing to share their findings as a service to the sport. But when you pair data-driven innovation with an intense passion for conservation, things get really interesting. The team is currently working on an eco-friendly shell that blends the lead-like performance of copper-plated bismuth with environmentally friendly details like a buffer made out of a proprietary blend of ground walnut shell and a biodegradable in-house produced wad.
This shared ethos of protecting the environment for the next generation of hunters drew Duck Camp in as a natural partner with BOSS.
With a "change the game for good" mentality, both BOSS and Duck Camp have proven more than willing to get their hands dirty with conservation instead of just writing checks for logo placement.
And out of that brotherhood came the collaboration of the Duck Camp x BOSS 12GA 2 ¾ #4 shotshell. With 1 ¼ payload at 1350 fps, it's the perfect catch-all waterfowl load from early teals to late ducks. The performance is real, and the non-toxic shot is the preferred choice of the Duck Camp team all season long. The box looks darn good on the fireplace, too.
The BOSS story proves that boldly pushing innovation and conservation with every shot is a winning strategy. And in a world where anybody can sell a product, BOSS has a purpose - to preserve our hunting heritage and educate a new generation to keep it going.